A holiday without family - by choice

The exhilaration. The feeling of boldness as you shed tradition and celebrate your way - with friends instead of family.

I was in my early 20s, new to my job and the city of Boston. I had friends around, some in grad school, some who worked with me, others who floated in and out.

It was Christmastime and I was lukewarm about going home. I wanted to see my family, but the extravaganzas I loved from childhood had long since passed, and holidays had become anticlimactic. I had no money to travel, although my parents would have paid for airfare. But, the perfect excuse: I hadn't been at my job long enough to earn vacation time.

So, on Christmas Day, a woman from India and I walked over to the loft apartment of a photographer friend and his Japanese wife, to cook a meal and celebrate the day. It felt peculiar to be away from my relatives, but cleansing in a way, too.

We chopped, stirred, and talked, eager to share our world experiences. It felt very bohemian, sitting on woven straw mats, drinking out of jelly jars, surrounded by my friend's photographs. My home, and childhood, seemed light years away.

These days, now that I have my own home and family, I wonder how my parents let me go so easily. My mother must have known that this was part of the ritual of separation; it was my time to carve out a new identity.

That Christmas signalled the beginning of adulthood - making decisions, choosing the people I wanted to be with, and feeling a part of the larger, human family.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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